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Archive for July, 2017

Audi Slashing $12b in Costs to Cover Electrification Goal

Luxury marque needs to offset cost of diesel emissions scandal.

by on Jul.31, 2017

Audi showed off its e-Tron Sportback Concept at this year's Shanghai Motor Show.

As it shifts away from its long dependence on diesel powertrains, Audi is looking to rapidly ramp up its electrification program, but the luxury arm of Volkswagen Group will have to slash spending to cover the costs of its new technology.

Audi intends to cut costs by 10 billion euros, or $12 billion, by 2022 to support its aggressive shift to electrification, according to a report by Germany’s Handelsblatt business publication.

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That money will help it bring to market five all-new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, as well as a range of plug-in hybrids and conventional hybrids, according to the report.

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As 2 More Kids Die, New Bill Aims to Prevent Vehicular Heatstroke Deaths

Nationwide heatwave threatens to bring more fatalities, experts warn.

by on Jul.31, 2017

Within hours, two Phoenix babies died after being left in hot cars over the weekend.

Days after two children died in Phoenix after being left in the back seat of hot cars, lawmakers and safety advocates say they’ll push to pass new legislation designed to prevent further deaths.

More than two dozen child and highway safety groups are calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the HOT CARS – short for Senate Bill S.1666, the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act – which has been introduced on Capitol Hill. It would require automakers to equip new vehicles with alarms designed to prevent parents and caregivers from inadvertently leaving children in the back seat of their vehicles.

Breaking News!

“A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and our bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, along with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. “It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child.”

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Ford to Repair Police Interceptor Versions of the Explorer SUV

Feds upgrade probe of 1.33 mil civilian Ford Explorers - carbon monoxide leaks could be problem.

by on Jul.31, 2017

K9 officer Keegan helped pull the covers off the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor.

Ford Motor Co. says it will repair police versions of the company’s popular Ford Explorer SUVs because of a problem that could make it possible for deadly carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin.

The announcement comes as the city of Austin, Texas decided to pull 400 Explorers from its police fleet because of the problem. Separately, federal regulators have upgraded a probe into 1.33 million civilian versions of the Ford Explorer because of reports of exhaust odors entering the cabin. There have been at least three reported crashes involving carbon monoxide exposure.

Safety Talk!

“This is my family,” Austin’s interim police chief Brian Manley said when announcing the decision to idle the city’s police Explorer models. “I stand here confident that we’re making the right decision today based on what we know with the carbon monoxide exposure issue that we’ve had and the impacts that it has had on our workforce.”

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First Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Is bigger better?

by on Jul.31, 2017

Challenging the Front Range, the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is longer, roomier than the original.

We’re off to a rocky start – as in the Rocky Mountains – as we head off for a day’s drive in the all-new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan. To get a sense of what the new ute can do, VW has dropped us off in Denver and suggested a long and winding route that takes us well into the majestic Colorado countryside.

Tiguan has been the anchor of an otherwise anemic line-up of SUVs from the German maker, a problem Volkswagen hopes to address in the coming year with a complete shake-up of its utility vehicle line-up. Its original offering, the big Touareg, is set to disappear, replaced by the more mainstream, American-made Atlas.

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Though smaller than Atlas, the Tiguan we’re driving will have to do the heavy lifting for the brand. It’s meant to replace a decidedly dated first-generation base model, one VW has hardly updated in more than a decade. The 2018 is more than just a refresh, however, getting an entirely new platform that allows it to grow larger – while also more lavishly equipped. In an unexpected move, however, VW has decided to keep the old model in production for the time being, targeting buyers on a budget, albeit with a new name.

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Subaru Set to Mark 50th Anniversary in US with Record Sales

Focus on safety has helped draw in younger buyers.

by on Jul.31, 2017

It has been a tough year for most automakers, but Subaru is rolling right along with continual increases.

Subaru, after a dazzling run up in sales during the past decade, is getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand’s debut in the U.S. next year.

During the past six years, Subaru’s sales have doubled and then doubled again and the Subaru is on track to set another sales record in 2017 as it continues to post year-over-year sales increases each month even as the pace of industry sales begins to ebb from its post-recession high.

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“The brand is really strong,” said Michael McHale, Subaru’s director of communications, who noted that Subaru sales continue to grow even as other automakers increased their incentives to keep hold of market share.   (more…)

Tesla Delivers: First 30 Owners Get New Model 3s

Company ramping up to 5,000 vehicles per week target.

by on Jul.29, 2017

Elon Musk, Tesla founder and CEO, talks through a design issue on Model 3 during the new vehicle's debut.

In front of a crowd of thousands of cheering Tesla employees, Elon Musk may have taken the shortest victory lap ever, driving a new Model 3 onto a stage, a route of probably less than 500 feet to kick off the delivery of the first 30 Model 3s to customers.

Though the hype leading up to the moment was tough to escape, it was a milestone moment in the company’s history — a moment many thought to be a pipe dream about a decade ago when Musk was running around with the Roadster telling folks a mainstream EV was the company’s goal and that it would happen.

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“The whole point of Tesla was to build a great affordable electric car,” Musk said last night. “That’s what this day means. I’m confident it’ll be the best car in its class, gasoline or not, hands down.” (more…)

Cadillac to Slash Sedan Line-Up, Shift Focus to SUVs

De Nysschen Confirms Earlier Report by TheDetroitBureau.com.

by on Jul.28, 2017

Despite solid reviews, sales of the Cadillac CT6 haven't lived up to expectations.

Cadillac will pair back its existing sedan line-up to no more than two models, while eliminating coupes and shifting focus to utility vehicles, according to the brand’s global chief Johann de Nysschen.

That appears to confirm a report last year by TheDetroitBureau.com that said the brand was getting major pushback from parent General Motors in light of slow sales growth and the overall shift in the luxury market from passenger cars to SUVs and crossovers.

The Last Word!

“We have to rebalance our sedan portfolio,” de Nysschen told the Reuters news service in an interview. The Cadillac chief previously refuted a report by this publication outlining Cadillac’s shift in product focus.

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Wells Fargo Paying $80M to Customers Over Insurance Snafu

Customers charged for auto insurance without being informed.

by on Jul.28, 2017

Wells Fargo will pay $80 million to resolve problems associated with its auto loan programs.

Wells Fargo is ponying up $80 million in refunds and account adjustments to auto loan customers because the bank charged them for auto insurance without telling them. In most cases, the loan customers already had insurance.

Of the 570,000 customers who were charged, 490,000 had auto insurance from some other provider. The loans had a provision that allowed the bank to charge for insurance coverage if there was no evidence the loan customer had it.

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The actions included loans from 2012 through this year. In some instances, customers had their vehicles repossessed because of problems with the additional payments. The bank will pay $64 million in cash and make $16 million in account adjustments as part of the program. (more…)

Renault-Nissan Alliance Leapfrogs Toyota, VW, to Become World’s #1 Automaker

Hits mid-year with big lead, lots of momentum.

by on Jul.28, 2017

Badass warrior? Nissan and Alliance partner Renault have leveraged a lead in global sales.

The auto industry has a new king-of-the-hill – at least for the first half of the year. A dark horse not all that long ago, the Renault-Nissan Alliance handily outsold both Volkswagen and Toyota and continues to gain momentum going into 2017’s second act.

It had been largely a two-horse race until recently, Volkswagen last year pulling off an upset due to a series of problems hammering Toyota. But Nissan has rapidly gained speed and last year’s effective takeover of troubled Mitsubishi Motors Corp. helped put it over the top.

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For the first half, the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance sold 5,268,079 vehicles, compared to Volkswagen’s 5,155,600 and Toyota’s 5,129,000. All three makers are on track to top 10 million for year. But General Motors, which had long ranked at the top of the sales charts, now lacks well back in fourth and unlikely to even make 9.5 million for the full year without picking up its pace.

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New 8th-Gen Rolls-Royce Phantom Fit for an Oligarch

Enjoy "The Embrace."

by on Jul.28, 2017

The new Rolls-Royce Phantom boasts the longest-running nameplate in the auto industry.

There’s a new king-of-the-hill, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos being named the world’s richest man, ahead of long-time moneybags and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. With Forbes estimating his fortune at $90 billion – even with free shipping – we just might have the perfect car for the online entrepreneur.

After a surprisingly long, 14-year run, Rolls-Royce is finally giving its flagship Phantom “saloon” car a complete makeover, the new model being unveiled at the British marque’s Goodwood factory today.

Product News!

Few cars have been around as long, the original Phantom debuting way back in 1925, and with its waterfall grille and “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament, few are as readily recognizable. Only the eighth version of the Phantom since the nameplate was launched 92 years ago, the new model offers plenty of lavish features designed to appeal to the world’s richest and most discriminating motorists – from the new 6.75-liter V-12 engine to the “Embrace” it offers rear seat passengers.

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